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UNIVERSITY 
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BAKER'S PLAYS 
Boston 11, Los Angeles 13, 

Massachusetts California 

Printed in the United States of America 



Grandma Pulls The Strin 

A Comedy in One Act 



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By // 

EDITH BARNARD DELANO 

and 

DAVID CARB 



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GMHCrtAt-^SXENS ION DIVISION 
FLORIDA 



BAKER'S PLAYS 

178 TREMONT STREET 448 SO. HILL STREET 

or 
BOSTON 11, MASS. LOS ANGELES 13, CAL. 




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Copyright, 1924, 1926, by Edith Barnard Delano and David Carb 

All rights reserved 
Made in V. S. A. 



Grandma Pulls the String 



CHARACTERS 

Grandma Blessington 

Mrs. Cummings, her daughter 

hlldegarde cummings 

Julia Cummings 

Nona Cummings Beaver 

William Thornton 



GRANDMA PULLS THE STRING 

Scene : The Cummings's living-room. 

Time : An evening in winter. 

Grandma Blessington is conveniently deaf, hearing only what 
she cares to hear — a fiction which the family maintains. She is dis- 
tinctly the head of the family, and as the head of the family she 
insists that everything be done right. Which is to say, what she 
considers right. Grandma may seem to be aggressive and obtuse at 
times, but her meddling never really hurts anyone, and she gets 
a deal of fun out of it. 

Mrs. Cummings, although she has gone through a similar ex- 
perience two years before when Nona became engaged to George 
Beaver, is in no way annoyed or bored by the repetition. She has 
but one desire : to do everything she can for Julia. Of course, Julia 
is very young and William is not much older and they have plenty 
of time ; but as soon as William is strong enough he is going back 
to a very good job, and the two are sweet together, so gay, so shy — 
She does wish Nona would be more sympathetic, and she does wish 
she could get Hildegarde to bed. Above all, she ivishes there were 
some way to keep Grandma from meddling in. 

Hildegarde is eleven or twelve years old, and she has begun to 
explore life — that is, she is reading all the love stories she can get 
hold of and she adores the movies. This evening she is dwelling and 
reveling in real romance: her sister Julia's "beau" is coming, and 
if things are managed properly "something" ought to happen. 
Hildegarde intends that something shall happen, if she can help 
things along. Ordinarily, older sisters are rather a nuisance; but 
tonight — 

Julia has known moments when she longed to drown the family, 
— you know what families are t Julia knows Bill Thornton cares 
63 



64 ANTHOLOGY OF ONE-ACT PLAYS 

for her and she is even surer that she loves him ; i) he were to pro- 
pose to her, she wouldn't hesitate to say "yes." As a matter of 
fact, she longs for him to propose ; but she does wish all this get- 
ting engaged stuff were not so complicated and didn't involve so 
many people ; and she wishes the family would let her alone . How- 
ever, Bill is to call this evening, and as he is leaving town tomorrow 
and he and she will have a few last hours together, that is all that 
really matters. Except her old coat. 

Nona is the oldest of the three Cummings girls. She is twenty- 
two, has been married almost two years, and so knows all there is 
to know about getting engaged and married — in fact, all there is 
to know about life. She will tell you so herself — although not di- 
rectly ; she is too blase for that. A shrug expresses Nona's state of 
mind. As for Julia and young Thornton, her attitude is: of course 
girls get all flustered by such a perfectly natural thing as a pro- 
posal, but when they acquire a little more experience they will see 
how utterly natural and commonplace the whole business is. 

William Thornton never dreamed, when he came to this town 
to recuperate, that he would meet The Girl. But he did. And now 
he has to go back home to the job, and having been away from it 
for two months, heaven only knows when he will be given another 
vacation. And their two towns are too far apart to make visiting 
over the week-ends possible. And he never could write letters — 
they never say what he wants them to. So this evening will be the 
end, unless — 

The Cummings living-room is plain, simple, cozy. In the rear is 
a door to the hall, from which the staircase mounts. At the right 
end of the hall is the outer door, at the left the dining-room ; 
neither is visible. At the left of the living-room a fireplace contains 
gas logs. On the right are two windows, with a large sofa beneath 
them. There is a round center table, on which stands an electric 
lamp connected with the electrolier above. Chairs, ornaments, fam- 
ily photographs — the usual accessories. A mirror is over the mantel. 

The curtain rises on an empty stage. There is no light in the 
room itself, but enough comes from the hall to dissipate the dark- 



GRANDMA PULLS THE STRING 65 

ness. Voices are heard — members of the family talking together } 
and calling from the dining-room and from upstairs. 

Presently Hildegarde descends importantly. She stands a 
moment regarding the room — the unromantic room. Then she 
switches on the table lamp and looks about her again critically. 
She lowers the window shades, drops the curtains over them, fluffs 
up the one cushion on the sofa. And then a new idea comes to her. 
She carefully places the cushion on the floor beside the sofa. She 
kneels on it. 

Hildegarde. Miss Julia, beautiful lady — [She sighs fervently, 
rises, and once more regards the room critically. This time the light 
seems wrong. It ought to be soft and romantic, but she doesn't 
know how to make it so. She shades it with her little blue hand- 
kerchief, but the effect is neither warm nor romantic. She looks 
about, then goes to the fireplace and lights the gas logs, switches 
off the lamp, and once more kneels on the cushion.'] Miss Julia, 
beautiful lady, fairest lady of my dreams — [She sighs ecstati- 
cally. The doorbell rings. Hildegarde does not heed it.] Fairest 
lady of my dreams, I humbly beg you to accept my unworthy 
hand in the bond of holy matrimony and be mine. [Once more 
the doorbell rings — this time peremptorily. Hildegarde jumps 
to her feet, somewhat bewildered, snapped out of an absorbing 
vision.] 

Grandma. [From off stage] Isn't anybody going to open the 
front door ? 

Hildegarde. [Calling] I will, Grandma. 

[She goes out. A door opens and closes.] 

Nona. [Outside]. Hello, dear. Where's everybody? 

Hildegarde. Upstairs. 

[They come to the threshold of the room. Nona is wearing 

a handsome fur coat.] 

Nona. [Calling] Ooo-ooh! 

Mrs. Cummings. [From upstairs] That you, Nona? 

Nona. What are you doing ? 



66 ANTHOLOGY OF ONE-ACT PLAYS 

Mrs. Cummings. Come on up. 

[Nona starts for the stairs.] 

Hildegarde. Sister Nona, come in here a minute ! 

Nona. In the parlor ? 

Hildegarde. [Nodding] I want to ask you something. 

Nona. Why the heavy darkness? [She moves towards the 
lamp.] 

Hildegarde. Oh, don't 1 I — don't you think the darkness is — 
nice? 

Nona. Why yes ! As darkness goes. But what 's the idea ? 

Hildegarde. It 's so — romantic ! 

Nona. Romantic — ! You darling child, what on earth — 

Hildegarde. It makes the room seem like a love bower. 

Nona. A love — ! Why, Hildegarde ! 

Hildegarde. [Proudly] I fixed the lights this way ! ! 

Nona. You ! Your love bower ! ! 

Hildegarde. [Impatient with her denseness] Of course not! 
Not mine ! Julia's. 

Nona. Julia's ! Soft lights — where 's the music ? 

Hildegarde. [Solemnly, rather regretfully] There isn't any 
music. 

Nona. Do you mean to say Julia is staging — ? 

Hildegarde. Sh — sh — ! Julia doesn't know anything at all 
about it. 

Nona. Then wh-^- 

Hildegarde. [Blurting it out] She's dressing up in a brand-new 
blue chiffon she and mother made today, and the lace handkerchief 
Grandma gave me and Mother's amber beads and the silk stockings 
you gave her for Christmas, and she 's got new slippers with silver 
buckles on them, and she's got a new vanity case that looks like 
solid gold and — 

Nona. Hold on— hold on ! What 's it all about ? What's Julia 
dolling up that way for ? 

Hildegarde. Mr. Thornton got well quicker 'n he thought he 
would and he 's got to go back home to Springfield tomorrow, and 



GRANDMA PULLS THE STRING 67 

this is his last night here and we think he'll ask Julia's hand in 
marriage — 

Nona. Ask Julia's hand — 1 Oh — oh — [She bursts into 
laughter.] 

Hildegarde. Sister Nona! Don't — don't — 

Nona. Ask Julia's hand I [She continues to laugh.] 

Hildegarde. Well, that's what gentlemen do when they pro- 
pose ! 

Nona. Who told you so ? 

Hildegarde. I know it. 

[A pause. Nona stares at Hildegarde, bites her lip.] 
They kneel down and beg 

Nona. Kneel down ! You Victorian child — ! 

Hildegarde. [Pointing] He'll kneel on that very cushion. I 
put it there so's he could. 

Nona. [Laughing] Oh, my dear — my dear — my dear — ! 
What on earth makes you think he'll kneel ? 

Hildegarde. [Proudly] Mr. Thornton is a gentleman. He will 
do it the way a gentleman should. 

Nona. And so you arranged all this — this scenery. 

Hildegarde. [Hurt] I wanted to help. 

Lives of great men all remind us 
We can make our lives sublime ! 

Nona. Longfellow! My stars! [To Hildegarde] So you 
turned the lights out and — 

Hildegarde. And put the cushion on the floor, so he won't get 
his trousers dusty when he kneels at her feet. 

Nona. They still grow that young ! [Gathering the child in her 
arms] You darling ! Men don't kneel any more. 

Hildegarde. Men do ! And Mr. Thornton will. Because that's 
the right way to do it. 

Nona. How do you know he'll do it at all, standing or — 
kneeling ? 

Hildegarde. [Importantly] Oh, we know. 



68 ANTHOLOGY OF ONE-ACT PLAYS 

Nona. Did he broadcast his intention ? 

Hildegarde. Of course not. 

Nona. Listen, dear. That's not the way it's done. The man 
says, "Gee, you look good to me!" And the girl says, "What 
d'you say we hitch up ? " 

Hildegarde. [Squirming out of her sister's embrace] They 
don't! They don't! 

Nona. Nowadays they — 

Hildegarde. [Defiantly] They kneel at their ladylove's feet and 
pray her — 

Nona. What a picture! [She laughs.] Imagine him — Poor 
Julia! 

Hildegarde. I hate you ! 

Nona. Why, Hildegarde — ! 

Hildegarde. Nothing is sacred to you ! You make fun of every- 
thing sacred. I — I hate you ! [In tears, she is running from the 
room. Nona switches on the table light.] 

[Mrs. Cummings descends the stairs rapidly and enters, stopping 
Hildegarde.] 

Mrs. Cummings. Why, baby ! Crying ? 

Hildegarde. Nona makes fun of everything sacred and — 

Nona. But I'm married. 

Hildegarde. I don't care ! When a thing's beautiful and lovely 
it's — it's lovely whether you're married or not. 

Nona. Love isn't lovely when you've been married awhile. [She 
is delighted with her own cynicism.] 

.Mrs. Cummings. Nona! [Nona grins and shrugs.] 

[To Hildegarde] There, baby dear, don't cry. Sister doesn't 
mean a word she says. 

Hildegarde. She's just spoiled everything for me. 

Nona. Well, it 's not spoiled for Julia. And after all, this is her 
party — ! 

Hildegarde. But I wanted to help her get engaged right. A girl 
doesn't get engaged but once ! 



GRANDMA PULLS THE STRING 69 

[Nona and Mrs. Cummings exchange smiles.] 

Mrs. Cummings. I hope not, dear. Now run upstairs and see 
if you can help her. 

Hildegarde. [Brightening'] Oh — I'll lend her my red leather 
belt ! And maybe — [She mounts the stairs importantly.] 

Mrs. Cummings. The precious child ! She takes everything so 
to heart ! 

Nona. [Grinning mischievously] Has the gentleman announced 
that he is going to snatch your second daughter from the arms of 
her loving family tonight, Mother ? 

Mrs. Cummings. Certainly not. Don't be absurd, Nona. But 
— well, after all, during the entire two months he's been rushing 
Julia. And I do think she's — well, fond of him. And since he has 
to go home tomorrow — well, there it is ! — [She has been brushing 
tables, straightening chairs, replacing ornaments, generally touching 
up the room as she chatted. Now she looks directly at Nona for 
the first time, and speaks as though she is glad to turn the subject.] 
Why, Nona ! What a beautiful coat ! 

Nona. [Twirling about] Isn't it wonderful? George made a 
lucky guess on the market and this is my share of the graft. I'm 
crazy about it. 

Mrs. Cummings. It looks mighty expensive. 

Nona. Oh, George isn't a cheap guy — when he's properly 
directed. 

Mrs. Cummings. [Wistfully] I wish Julia had a fur coat. 

Nona. She'll have a dozen — if she catches Bill Thornton. [She 
takes off the coat and throws it on a chair.] 

Mrs. Cummings. Oh, Nona! Catches! Haven't you any 
illusions ? 

Nona. [Shrugs and grins.] How could I have ? I've been mar- 
ried two years ! 

Mrs. Cummings. You grow sillier every day. 

Nona. [Swiftly embracing her mother, laughing] Nervous? 

Mrs. Cummings. No, tired. We made a whole dress today. 

Nona. Poor little mother ! 



70 ANTHOLOGY OF ONE-ACT PLAYS 

Mrs. Cummings. When you have a daughter of your own you'll 
know how it feels to — 

Nona. [Her face close to her mother's ]Is that the only reason 
you're — flustered ? 

Mrs. Cummings. [Withdrawing] What do you mean? 

Nona. You and Hildegarde seem to be having a sentimental bat 
of your own ! 

[Julia, followed by Hildegarde, has come down the stairs in time 
to hear Nona.] 

Julia. [Speaking to Nona as to one who has been through it] 
That's the right word, Nona, "sentimental." I've had to put up 
with this sort of thing for days! You'd think I was the ugliest 
duckling in the world and a million years old, — they're so over- 
joyed at the mere possibility of getting rid of me. There 's nothing 
in it, anyway. Just because Bill is going away tomorrow and is 
coming to say good-by — 

Nona. [Patting her — and Julia moves away from the pat.] 
Don't let it get under your skin, old girl ! George and I had to go 
through the same sort of thing. 

Julia. Hildegarde didn't sigh over you ! 

Nona. No. I was spared that. 

[Hildegarde stares at them round-eyed, hurt. Older sis- 
ters are incomprehensible ; but they are as they are.] 
You look lovely. 

Julia. Like me ? 

Nona. Peach of a dress. Men adore blue. 

Julia. [Confidentially] What shall I do, Nona ? 

[Mrs. Cummings is doing more things to the room. Hilde- 
garde canH take her eyes off Julia.] 

Nona. Grab him. 

Julia. You too ! [She turns away.] 

Nona. He is going to propose, isn't he ? 

Julia. [Flaming out at her] You're as big a fool as the others ! 

Nona. [Ambiguously] That's what I was led to believe. 



GRANDMA PULLS THE STRING 71 

Julia. He's going away tomorrow and he's coming tonight to 
say good-by . That 's all there is to it. 

Nona. [Teasing] Nothing else? 

Julia. I did think you would understand ! 

Nona. [Relenting — almost tenderly] I do, dear — I do. 

Julia. Then for goodness' sake help me ! 

Nona. You seem to have more help already than you can use. 

Julia. [Blurting out her trouble] I want to see him alone. And 
Dick is studying his lessons in the dining-room, and Grandma is 
going to insist on coming in here. 

Nona. Why ? She likes the dining-room better. 

Julia. Of course she does. She always says the light is bad 
in here. But tonight, ever since dinner, she's been complaining 
— the dining-room 's chilly, Dick makes her drop stitches by 
grinning at her — as though that doesn't happen every night ! She 
just wants to be in here with us. And somehow she'll manage to 
get here. 

Grandma. [Off stage] Hildegarde ! 

Julia. You see ! 

Grandma. Hilde-garde ! Come wheel me into the parlor. 

Hildegarde. [At the top of her voice] Let Dick do it. 

Mrs. Cummings. [Sternly] Hildegarde! 

Hildegarde. What if Dick does race her old chair ! 

Mrs. Cummings. Go get your grandmother. 

Hildegarde. I don't want to — 

[Nevertheless , she goes.] 

Nona. [To Julia] Take him out somewhere. 

Julia. How can I ? That dowdy old coat of mine — ■ 

Nona. He 's seen it before ! 

Julia. But — it's his last night. 

Nona. He'll be thinking of you, not your coat. 

Julia. But his last sight of me must be — er — well, not a sloppy, 
shapeless, out-of-date, faded — 

Mrs. Cummings. Your coat isn't as bad as all that, my dear ! 
And what does it matter ? 



72 ANTHOLOGY OF ONE-ACT PLAYS 

Julia. It matters tremendously. 

Mrs. Cummings. Wear mine ! 

Julia. Oh, Mother! 

Mrs. Cummings. Look what George gave Nona. [She holds up 
the fur coat.] 

Julia. Oh, how gorgeous ! 

Nona. Pretty nifty ? He surprised me with it tonight. 

Julia. How did he know which you wanted ? 

Nona. Oh, I have a little way of taking him window-shopping ! 
[She is very proud oj her foresight — she knows how to manage 
husbands \] 

Julia. [Stroking it] A dream — A dream coat — Nona, could 
I ? May I try it on ? 

[Nona holds the coat and Julia slips into it.] 

Nona. You look like a million dollars ! 

Julia. I feel like Standard Oil ! [She twists about to look down 
at herself.] 

Mrs. Cummings. Nona, why couldn't you just let Julia wear — 

Julia. Oh, Nona ! Would you ? Let me wear it — just tonight ? 

Nona. I only got it today ! 

Julia. Let me wear it tonight, Nona ! One night couldn't pos- 
sibly matier to you ! 

Nona. I wish I could, Julia. But I promised George I'd go 
with him — 

Mrs. Cummings. Don't be selfish, Nona. 

Nona. Is it selfish to want to wear your first fur coat yourself 
the first night you've got it ? Why can't Julia entertain her beau 
here at home, like any other girl ? 

Julia. You know perfectly well that Grandma is going to be in 
this room. And Dick's in the dining-room. And if we sat on the 
stairs Hildegarde would be hanging over the banisters. And even 
Mother will be wondering what is going on and — [She has taken 
off the coat.] 

Mrs. Cummings. No I won't, dear. I'll be in the dining-room 
keeping Dick quiet. 



GRANDMA PULLS THE STRING 73 

Nona. So you see! Nobody but Grandma will be in here with 
you. And she's deaf as a post. 
Julia. She's only deaf when she wants to be. 
Grandma. [Outside, testily] Don't jiggle the chair so, 
Hildegarde. 

Hildegarde. [Loudly] I'm not jiggling it ! 
Grandma. What say? If you're going to wheel me at all, 
please wheel me right. Whatever' s worth doing is worth doing 
right. 

[Hildegarde wheels her into the living-room. Grandma's 
eyes are bright, her mouth expressive and humorous — 
it can smile, too, when the rest of her face is impassive 
and innocent as a lamb's. All the time she is being 
wheeled in she is calmly knitting a red sweater, with a 
great ball of red yarn on her lap.] 
Nona. [Loudly] Good evening, Grandma. [Kisses her.] 
Grandma. Yes, my dear. A good deal warmer in here. 
Nona. [Louder] How are you ? 

Grandma. Well, I don't care if he is coming. He can freeze 
better than I can. 

Nona. [Grinning, in her usual tone] He won't freeze ! As far 
as I can see, the atmosphere is going to be warm enough. 

Hildegarde. Yes, the fire in Julia's eyes will keep him warm. 
[Julia is wondering how much more she can stand. 
Grandma glances quickly at the company, her eyes 
twinkling, a smile flickering on her lips. There is no 
doubt whatever that the old lady has heard them 
perfectly.] 
Grandma. Warm, did you say, Hildegarde? Yes, my dear, it 
is a nice warm color. [She holds up the sweater she is knitting.] 
Push me a little nearer the hearth, child. Fire on the hearth, fire in 
my lap, fire in Julia's eyes, fire in Willie's heart — 
Julia. Don't call him Willie. 

Grandma. Yes, fire in Willie's heart — You'd think the house 
would burn up, with so much loose fire. 



74 ANTHOLOGY OF ONE-ACT PLAYS 

[Hildegarde is staring at Julia— -her heart is wrung for 
Julia. The others look at their mother, Julia be- 
seechingly, Nona with a grin.] 

Mrs. Cummings. [Bending over the chair] Mother dear, don't 
you want to come upstairs with Nona and me ? 

Grandma. [Confidentially'] I agree with you, Juliet, Nona is 
not the same since she got married. More uppish than ever. 

Nona. The old humbug ! She hears everything that 's said ! 

Grandma. [Her eyes narrowing] Seems to me she gets more 
selfish every day she lives. Feel sorry for her husband. 

Nona [Flaring] He doesn't need your sympathy ! 

Mrs. Cummings. Nona ! Your grandmother ! 

Nona. She insults me every time I set my foot in this house. 

Julia. You're not so very considerate of her, either ! 

Nona. Why should I be ? She 's an old fake, that 's what she is ! 
Pretending to be an invalid, making believe she 's deaf just so we'll 
say things before her — 

Mrs. Cummings. She's an old lady and ^he's your grand- 
mother — I 

Nona. Yes, and she never lets anybody forget it for one min- 
ute ! Oh, of course Julfa 's always been her favorite ! We all know 
that ! [She grabs up her coat and starts for the door.] 

Grandma. [Blandly] Going home, Nona? 

Nona. Good-night, Grandma. [She pecks at her cheek.] 

Grandma. [Holding on to the coat] My ! What a fine fur coat ! 

Nona. [A little appeased] Like it ? 

Grandma. What say ? 

Nona. I say — do you like it ? 

Grandma. Must have cost a heap of money ! How much did 
you say it cost ? 

Nona. I didn't say. 

Grandma. How much? 

Nona. [Loudly] I don't know. 

Grandma. You'll ruin that husband of yours quicker than he 
can ruin himself. And they already call him Poorhouse George. 



GRANDMA PULLS THE STRING 75 

Nona. What ! Who dares— ? 

Grandma. [So innocently, her head a little on one side to get 
her knitting closer to the light so she can pick up a stitch] That's 
what they say — * 

[Nona gasps in anger, glares at the benign-looking old lady 
a moment, and flounces out. Mrs. Cummings follows. 
She is seen inducing Nona to go into the dining- 
room -with her. They disappear.] 

Julia. Oh dear ! I must be a sight ! Jumping around so, and 
everybody so cross — ! Oh, I do wish I — 

Hildegarde. [Who has scarcely taken her eyes off Julia] You 
don't ! You look perfectly beautiful. You look like a dish — dish 
— [She is trying to say "disheveled" but she only mumbles the 
last part of the word. As Julia stares at her she hastens to add] 
You look like a — a princess. 

Grandma. Pinched ? Did you say Julia looked pinched ? Come 
here, Julia — ! Rub your cheeks, child, rub your cheeks ! Your 
hand's cold. You ought to have a fur coat like Nona's. 

Julia. Don't I know it ! 

Grandma. Mighty cold tonight. 

Julia. It 's nice and cozy upstairs, Grandma. 

Grandma. Yes, this is a cozy room. I always did like to look 
at a fire. Makes me feel like a young girl again — soft and fluttery 
and — and sad. The way I used to feel when gentlemen came 
sparking me. [She sighs lingeringly .] Ah me — romance — there's 
not much romancy nowadays — ! 

Hildegarde. If she feels so romantic, why doesn't she let some- 
body else have a chance to get that way, too ! 

Julia. Hildegarde, you mustn't talk about your grandmother 
that way. 

Hildegarde. I don't care! It's cruel and wicked for her to 
spoil your romance, Julia. 

Julia. I haven't any romance. And if I had, she wouldn't be 
spoiling it. And if she could spoil it, then it wouldn't be worth 
spoiling anyway. [Julia bites her lip. She is almost in tears.] 



76 ANTHOLOGY OF ONE-ACT PLAYS 

Hildegarde. You could have a romance, Julia! But if Mr. 
Thornton doesn't get a chance to see you alone, how can he — ? 

Julia. Oh, my goodness ! How can he what ? 

Hildegarde. [Solemnly] Make you an offer. [Ecstatically) 
Oh, he 's so handsome ! — 

Julia. Oh my goodness, Hildegarde, if you don't stop — 

Hildegarde. No woman could resist such a beautiful man. And 
oh — -his neckties ! 

Julia. [Still exasperated, but amused in spite of herself] You 
take him, then, Hildegarde ! You're welcome to him ! I wish I'd 
never laid eyes on him. I wish — [The doorbell rings. Julia jumps, 
clasps her hands together, doesn't know which way to run. She 
glances at Grandma.] Oh — dear! [She looks in the mirror over 
the mantelpiece.] I'm a fright! Where's my vanity box? Oh — 
upstairs — You let him in, Hildegarde ! [She rushes above.] 

Hildegarde. Don't go, Julia L You ought to be here when he 
comes in, Julia ! Julia ! Oh dear — ! [She starts for the door, 
returns, tiptoes to the mirror and fusses up her hair, starts again 
for the door, observes that the cushion is no longer on the floor — 
Mrs. Cummings had replaced it on the sofa. She tosses the 
cushion down once more, leaves it, comes back, straightens it a 
little, pats it. Grandma has been a close and interested observer 
of the performance — there really isn't much that Grandma 
misses.] 

Grandma. Wasn't that the doorbell ? 

Hildegarde. Yes ma'am. I'm going right away. Oh, my hand- 
kerchief ! [She fishes deep into her frock for it.] 

Grandma. Want Willie to freeze out there? Won't be able to 
pop the question if his teeth are chattering. Warm outside warm 
inside — and not vice versa ! 

[Hildegarde is at the threshold.] 
Move me nearer the lamp. 

Hildegarde. In a minute. 

Grandma. [Emphatically] Now! 

Hildegarde. [Obeying] Oh dear, oh dear ! He'll think we don't 



GRANDMA PULLS THE STRING 77 

want him. He'll think we're trying to freeze him out ! [A horrible 
thought comes to her.] Maybe he's gone ! 

[The bell rings again. She dashes out.] 

Grandma. More thrilling to her than her own will be. Children 
take it hard, old folks take it smiling, and lovers take it — soft and 
sticky — [With a quirk of her lips] like molasses candy — [Laughs 
tenderly.] 

Thornton. [Off stage] Good evening, Hildegarde. 

Hildegarde. [Off stage] Why, good evening, Mr. Thornton! 
How do you do ? Please step right in and remove your coat. Let 
me hang it up for you. Cold night, isn't it? Walk this way, 
please! You want to see Sister Julia, I suppose? I think she will 
receive you. 

[Hildegarde and Thornton enter. Thornton crosses to Mrs. 
Blessington.] 

Thornton. How d'ye do, Mrs. Blessington ? 

Grandma. [Taking his proffered hand briefly] What say? 

Thornton. [Shouting] I said, how d'ye do? 

Grandma. No. I don't hear so well. Not in winter. 

Hildegarde. [Patting the sofa] Won't you be seated, Mr. 
Thornton? Here! 

Thornton. If you don't mind, I'll thaw my hands a little. 

Grandma. Cold tonight. Cold enough to freeze the heart. 

Thornton. Not the heart, Mrs. Blessington. 

Grandma. The nose, too. [Suddenly self-conscious, he turns to 
the mirror over the mantel, touches his nose. Grandma smiles 
fleetingly.] Funny about noses ! When a person's nose is blue 
his blood's white. And when his blood is blue his nose is white. 
And when his nose is red, his blood is, too ! 

Thornton. [Grinning] You're quite a philosopher, Mrs. 
Blessington. 

Grandma. I've got rheumatism. 

Hildegarde. Are you warm yet, Mr. Thornton? 

Thornton. Considerably thawed, thanks. 



78 ANTHOLOGY OF ONE-ACT PLAYS 

Hildegarde. Then do come over here, please. [With an elegant 
wave of the hand towards the sofa] Please be seated. 

[Thornton sits down. Hildegarde always amuses him.] 
Thornton. You 're looking mighty fit this evening, Mary Pickford ! 
Hildegarde. [With eighteenth-century coyness, evidently seen 
in the movies] Oh law, sir ! 

[As he stretches his legs slightly, Thornton's feet touch 

the cushion on the floor.] 
Oh, don't ! ! 
Thornton. [Startled] What? 
Hildegarde. You mustn't put your feet on that ! 
Thornton. [Embarrassed, examining his shoes] Why — er — 
Hildegarde. It's not there for shoes. 

Thornton. Oh, I beg pardon ! I thought it was a sort of foot- 
stool. [He stoops to pick it up.] 

Hildegarde. [Restraining him] No ! — ! I put it there, you 
see, for — for knees. [He is puzzled. She interprets that as love's 
diffidence, and clasps her hands. Then she moves deliberately, with 
what she conceives as enormous dignity, to the hall and calls.] Oh 
sister Julia ! Mr. Thornton is in the parlor. 
Julia. Be right down. 

[Meanwhile Thornton has regarded his knees curiously, 

then the cushion, then his knees again. He can make 

nothing of Hildegarde's remark. Now she returns.] 

Thornton. You said knees. Is it some new kind of praying 

cushion ? 

Hildegarde. [Beaming] Yes. That's just what it is! A pray- 
ing cushion. Gentlemen always kneel when they pray the fair lady 
of their heart — 
Julia. [Still from above] Hilde-garde ! Come here a moment ! 
Hildegarde. [Departing] Gentlemen always kneel when they 
pray the fair lady of their heart to — [She goes.] 

[Thornton's bewilderment gradually gives way to amuse- 
ment. He chuckles, looks at the cushion, at his knees, 
chuckles again.] 



GRANDMA PULLS THE STRING 79 

Thornton. [To himself] I wonder if that kid meant me? 

Grandma. [As though to herself, but quite distinct enough for 
him to hear] Whatever is worth doing at all is worth doing right — 
business, housework, love-making — [Directly at him] Have you 
ever been in love, young man ? 

Thornton. [Confused] I! Why — er — I — 

Grandma. Ever have it so bad you got engaged ? 

Thornton. Oh no I Never — never — 

Grandma. As often as that ! Tut tut ! Then you ought to know 
how to propose right ! They say practice makes perfect. 

Thornton. [Louder] I say I never have been engaged ! I've 
never proposed to anybody in my life ! 

Grandma. My ! You're quite a feller with the girls, aren't you ? 
If an old woman may be permitted to ask — in confidence, of course 
—how do you usually go about it ? 

Thornton. But I tell you I — 

Grandma. Oh, come now ! You needn't mind telling me, Wil- 
liam ! I've been through it myself, you know. Do you jump right 
in or do you lead up to it gradually ? 

Thornton. [Shouting] But I tell you I have never proposed 
to — [Suddenly realizing that his shouts can be heard all over the 
house, he breaks off in confusion, gets up and walks to the door, 
glances upstairs, crosses to the fireplace nearer Grandma.] 

Grandma. [Placidly knitting] Never been accepted? Why, 
William, I'm surprised at you ! You must have gone about it in 
the wrong way. Which did you say was your method? — sudden 
or gradual ? 

Thornton. [Swallowing first, trying to pitch his voice so she 
but not the rest of the household can hear] Neither, Mrs. Blessing- 
ton. I never have — 

Grandma. That's too bad. You ought to have tried the other 
way. Gradual. [She sighs reminiscently, and drops a stitch, bends 
closer to the light to pick it up.] Dear me ! I remember so well 
the way my poor husband did it. He said, "Maria, I — I — " And 
I said to him, — and it 's as true now, William, as it was then — I 



80 ANTHOLOGY OF ONE-ACT PLAYS 

said, "John, what's worth doing at all is worth doing right !" So 
he began all over again. [She stops.] 

Thornton. [Still extremely uncomfortable] Er — er — 
really — ? 

Grandma. [Smiling at him benignly] You really want to know ? 
Now that's a spirit I approve of, William! When people really 
want to learn I'm always willing to help them. Mr. Blessington 
said, "It's a fine evening," and I said, "Yes, Mr. Blessington, very 
fine. Won't you sit down?" So we sat down. And then he said I 
was looking mighty pretty — I was wearing blue. I tell you, I 
blushed, when Mr. Blessington praised my looks and my blue dress. 
I said, "Oh, Mr. Blessington — !" Then he said he hoped my 
parents were well, and asked whether they were at home^ I said, 
"Oh — do you want to see themV And he said, quite excited, 
"No — oh no — I — I want to see you — only you — all my life, 
Maria ! You — alone ! " My heart was pounding like a drum. 

Thornton. [Interested in spite of his embarrassment] But of 
course you knew all along — 

Grandma. I sat there and sat there, and so did he. I began to 
think he never would get any more out. But after a while he 
reached over and touched my hand. It was resting between us on 
the sofa. 

Thornton. [Grinning] By accident ? 

Grandma. I drew it away. Girls did, in those days. I mur- 
mured, "Why, Mr. Blessington!" Of course he was quite over- 
come with shame at his — er — boldness. He walked back and 
forth, reproaching himself. He said— "Pardon me, Maria, pardon 
me ! To take advantage of your innocence ! But I — I — " Then he 
came straight over to the sofa where I was sitting. He put his 
hand on his heart, and made me a bow. And then he knelt on a 
hassock at my feet. "Maria," he said, "I love you! Will you do 
me the great, the overwhelming honor of considering me an humble 
aspirant for your hand?" 

Thornton. [Enormously amused] What did you say to that, 
Mrs. Blessington? 



GRANDMA PULLS THE STRING 8x 

Grandma. I remembered my bringing up. Girls did, in those 
days. I raised my hand — like this — as though I did not know 
what he meant. I said, "My hand, Mr. Blessington — ?" So he 
had to say it the right way. 

Thornton. What way? 

Grandma. He said — "Will you grant me the inestimable 
privilege of loving you and caring for you all the rest of your 
life? In short, will you make me the most supernally happy 
man on earth by deigning to become my wife?" I grew quite 
faint — girls did, in those days. I thought I should have the 
vapors. I murmured, "Oh, Mr. Blessington, this is so sudden!" 
And so it was done! And that's how it ought to be done, 
young man! [She smiles up at him.] Think you know how, 
now? 

Thornton. [Uncomfortably] Of course. 

Grandma. Say it over. 

Thornton. Why — really — 

Grandma. [Firmly] Say it, William ! 

Thornton. [Yielding, because he has to, but aware of what a 
ridiculous position he is in] "Will you grant me the — the — " 

Grandma. The inestimable privilege. 

Thornton. "Will you grant me the inestimable privilege of 
loving you — " 

Grandma. Loving and caring for you. Caring is very important 
to a woman, William. 

Thornton. "And caring for you forever." 

Grandma. All the rest of your life. 

Thornton. "All the rest of your life." 

Grandma. "In short, will you make me supernally happy by 
deigning to become my wife?" 

Thornton. [He seems to find the room very warm.] "In short, 
will you make me supernally happy by deigning to become my 
wife?" 

Grandma. That's right. Now the next time you propose, do it 
that way, and you'll get the girl. 



82 ANTHOLOGY OF ONE-ACT PLAYS 

[Julia enters, going directly towards Thornton, her hand out- 
stretched. He grasps it as though it were a life-preserver.] 

[Grandma speaks rather louder, more pointedly.] The right way 
— the way it ought to be done ! 
Julia. Bill! — 
Thornton. Julia! — 

[They gaze at each other, lost in each other. A rather long 
silence, while Grandma knits contentedly. Then she 
smiles a little.] 
Grandma. Julia ! Get my shawl. 

[They pay no heed.] 
Julia, my dear ! 
Julia. [Coming back to earth] Yes, Grandma ? 
Grandma. Get my shawl. 

[Julia looks about the room, a little dazed.] 
Thornton. Let me — ! 
Grandma. It 's upstairs. 
Julia. [Flashing a smile at Thornton] Just a minute ! 

[She runs out, and up the stairs. Thornton gazes after her.] 
Grandma. She's a good girl, Julia. Though girls aren't what 
they used to be. 
Thornton. She 's — perfect. 

Grandma. Well. She likes to gallivant. Woman's place is in 
the home. 
Thornton. Woman's place is in the heart ! 

[Julia flits down with the shawl, lays it across Grandma's 

shoulders.] 
Grandma. No — I don't need it yet a while. 

[Thornton and Julia are again lost in each other ; they 
don't even know they are still standing.] 
Thornton. By Jove, you look lovely tonight ! 

[Grandma throws them a glance, smiles.] 
That dress is a corker ! 
Julia. [Laughing a little] This old thing — ? Like it ? 



GRANDMA PULLS THE STRING 83 

Thornton. It's a marvel 

Julia. Don't be silly ! Mother and I made it ourselves ! 
Thornton. How is your mother ? 
Julia. Oh, she 's all right ! Want to see her ? 
Thornton. I don't want to see anybody in the world but you. 
[Grandma has a little coughing spell. Thornton looks 

at her.] 
Look here, Julia, isn't there some place we could go — some other 
room — ? 
Julia. I — I'm afraid there isn't. 

Thornton. Then can't you get the old Gorgon out of here? 
You know she 's a — 

[Grandma is unmoved, Julia suddenly very nervous.] 
Julia. Won't you sit down, Bill ? 

[Again Grandma throws them a glance, which Thornton 

catches.] 
Thornton. Say, you know, honestly, she 's a — 
Julia. [Nervously, impressively, shaking her head at him, to his 
slight bewilderment] Won't you sit down, Bill? Over here — ! 

[They cross to the sofa and sit down.] 
Thornton. Gosh, Julia, you knock me out, in that dress ! Blue 
certainly is your color. You know — I'm crazy about — 

[Grandma's big ball of red yarn rolls on the floor.] 
Grandma. [Quietly] My yarn, William. 

[Thornton picks it up, rolling it as he goes to return it 

to her.] 
Thanks. 

Thornton. [Standing] Say, look here, Julia! Let's go out 
somewhere ! How about the movies ? 
Julia. Oh, it 's too cold. 
Thornton. I'll get a cab. Come on ! 
Julia. You can't talk at the movies. 
Thornton. Most people don't know it 1 Please — ! 
Julia. Besides — it's so dark you can't see — the person you're 
with. 



84 ANTHOLOGY OF ONE-ACT PLAYS 

Thornton. [Delighted] Julia. [He crosses quickly to the sofa, 
sits down close to her.] Julia, you want to see me ! You — 

[Grandma's ball slips from her lap again and rolls almost 

to their feet.] 
Grandma. William, my yarn. 

[Thornton's lips compress, but again he rolls up the yarn 
and returns the ball to the old lady and himself to the 
sofa.] 
Thornton. Let's go to a restaurant, then. 
Julia. I couldn't eat a thing. 

Thornton. You wouldn't have to. But we've just got to get 
away from here ! Please, Julia ! 

Julia. I — honestly, I can't Bill. This — this dress is too thin, 
and — 
Thornton. Put on another one. 
Julia. I thought you liked me in this ! 
Thornton. I like you in anything, you're so — 

[Grandma's ball of yarn rolls almost to their feet. Thorn- 
ton picks it up, returns it with a sort of dragged 
briskness.] 
Julia. [As he comes back] Oh, let it stay on the floor next time. 
Thornton. You see for yourself we've simply got to go 
somewhere. 

Julia. But you've been sick, Bill. You ought to stay where 
it 's warm. Do you think you're really strong enough to go back 
home tomorrow? 

Thornton. I've been well for weeks. I've just been staying on 
here because I — 
Julia. Do you still take your tonic ? 
Thornton. Once in a while. 

Julia. Oh, you must take it regularly. Promise me you'll take 
it regularly. 
Thornton. Do you care ? 
Julia. [Demurely] I'll be anxious. 
Thornton. Do you care ? 



GRANDMA PULLS THE STRING 85 

Julia. Well — I — of course I'd hate to think of your having a 
relapse. 
Thornton. Why? 

Julia. Oh well, I — I hate to think of anybody suffering. 
Thornton. Is that the only reason ? 

[She doesn't answer. He seizes her hand. Her eyes meet 
his. And — the ball of yarn rolls across the floor. He 
kicks it viciously, ,] 
Damn ! 
Julia. [Laughing a little] She's an old lady, Bill ! 
Thornton. She thinks I'm a retriever. 

[Julia has picked up the ball this time, and as she winds 
it towards Grandma she throws him a laughing look 
over her shoulder. She puts the ball on Grandma's 
lap, bends over the back of the old lady's chair, and 
speaks close to her ear.] 
Julia. Now I warn you, Grandma, that 's the last time ! You 
be more careful ! [She kisses Grandma's cheek.] 

Grandma. [Blandly] Warm? Yes, it's a nice warm color. I 
always did like red. William prefers blue. 

[Julia returns to the sofa.] 
Julia. She won't drop it again. [Picks the pillow off the floor.] 
Lean forward! [He leans towards her, and she stuffs the pillow 
behind him.] Now lean back! 

Thornton. Not on your life ! [He pulls the pillow from be- 
hind him. The sight of it reminds him of something, and he laughs.] 
Julia. What 's the matter ? 

Thornton. [He drops the pillow on the floor again.] That's 
the place for that ! Hildegarde told me so ! 

Julia. Hildegarde! [Then, suspiciously] What's Hildegarde 
been saying to you ? 
Thornton. She 's a funny kid ! Sentimental ! 
Julia. [Alarmed] Sentimental — ! 

Thornton. And romantic as the dickens. Like your grandmother. 
Julia. Grandma! 



86 ANTHOLOGY OF ONE-ACT PLAYS 

Thornton. They both seem to have their ideas about how 
things ought to be done. Some things especially. Hildegarde seems 
to have some sort of vague yearnings for the Sir Walter Raleigh 
act. Your grandmother — 
Julia. Bill, what have those two been — 
Thornton. Oh, the old lady's been telling me some yarn or 
other. And Hildegarde — 
Julia. Oh ! This family— 1 

Thornton. [Bending closer] Come now, Julia ! Let's not pre- 
tend ! What 's the good of beating about the bush ? They know 
I'm crazy about you — anybody can see that! I — 

[Grandma's ball rolls almost viciously across the floor and 
under the sofa. Thornton is very effectively checked.] 
Oh, confound it ! What 's the matter with her, anyway ? 
Julia. Sssh! 

[Thornton stoops, cannot reach the ball, kneels down on 
the cushion and reaches under the sofa. Bringing out 
the ball, he laughs up at Julia.] 
Thornton. Not such a bad idea this, of Hildegarde's ! [Sud- 
denly serious] Julia, I'm kneeling at your feet — 
Julia. Don't be absurd ! 

Thornton. — where I ought to kneel ! I want to kneel at your 
feet forever, Julia — kneel and — and adore you ! 

[Hildegarde peeks around the corner of the door. Seeing 
him doing it her way, she forgets discretion, claps her 
hands noiselessly, and jumps up and down in the 
opening.] 
Julia, I do adore you ! You know I do a — 

[He sees Hildegarde, is overcome with confusion, gulps, 
stares. She dodges back, runs past the door. Julia, 
following his look, sees nothing. Then she becomes 
concerned.] 
Julia. Bill, you are ill ! 

Thornton. I don't know ! No — I'm not ! I — I guess I'm sort 
of — haunted, or something. 



GRANDMA PULLS THE STRING 87 

Julia. Haunted — ! 

Thornton. [Desperately] Look here, Julia, you know I love 
you and — 

[Grandma jerks the string sharply. It reminds him that he 
has the ball in his hands. He looks at it, dazed ; looks 
along the string, jumps angrily to his feet and stalks 
across to her, plumping the ball rather decidedly in her 
lap. He strides angrily back to the soja.] 
Get your hat and coat — ! 
Julia. No, Bill. I can't go out. 

Thornton. You do as I say ! I won't endure this any longer. 
Come on — get your coat ! 
Julia. She'll fall asleep in a little while. 
Thornton. Where is your coat ? 
Julia. Oh — Oh dear — I simply can't wear that coat! 
Thornton. Oh, for Gosh sake! What's the matter with your 
coat ? Wear mine ! Come on ! 
Julia. [Almost weeping] I can't ! 

Thornton. Say, is everybody crazy around here — or just me ? 
Grandma. [Placidly] Julia ! — Oh Julia — ! 

[Thornton jerks his shoulders angrily. Julia's lips are 
trembling. She throws Thornton a beseeching look 
which he will not see.] 
Oh Julia— ! ! 
Julia. Yes, Grandma ? 

Grandma. Julia, did I ever tell you the story about the man 
who looked at the moon? 

[Thornton laughs shortly, thrusts his hands in his pockets.] 
Julia. Yes, Grandma. I know it by heart — ! 
Grandma. The man was walking in the meadows one night 
and — 
Julia. [Shouting] You have told it to me, Grandma ! 
Grandma. All right, dear — I'm going to tell it to you. Don ? t 
let yourself become so excited, Julia. This man was walking in 
the — 



88 ANTHOLOGY OF ONE-ACT PLAYS 

Thornton. [While Grandma is still mumbling her story] 
Julia ! Don't you see how impossible it is to stay here? 

Julia. It 's just as impossible to go — ! 

Thornton. [He is standing in front of the sofa looking down 
at her.] Our last evening together — and much you seem to care 
about it ! 

Julia. Oh — I know — our last — But I — 

Thornton. [Pleading] Look here, Julia! What 's all this mystery 
about going out with me ? I'm not asking you to Africa or the moon ! 

Julia. I'd go with you to Africa — or. the moon — ! 

Thornton. [Dropping down to the sofa beside her, ecstati- 
cally] Julia — 

Julia. [Hastily, drawing back a little] Oh — lots of girls are 
like that ! A girl might go to the end of the world with a man when 
she — when she wouldn't go to a movie with him. 

Thornton. [He has her hand.] You mean you'll go to the end 
of the world with me — ? Julia, you darling — ! You — I — 

[The ball of yarn rolls yet again.] 

Grandma. [Who has been mumbling her story, now is audible 
once more.] And the moon was only a scarecrow grinning at him ! 
It hadn't fallen out of the sky at all ! What do you think of that, 
William? 

Thornton. [Wearily , despairingly returning the ball] Yes, 
Mrs. Blessington. 

Grandma. It only goes to show that there 's a right way and a 
wrong way to do everything ; and if a thing is worth doing at all 
it's worth doing right. [She throws him a sharp glance as he 
stands over her. He understands, grins a moment as it dawns on 
him, passes a hand over his mouth, goes stiffly across the floor, 
bows to Julia from the hips.] 

Thornton. Julia, will you do me the great honor of considering 
me an humble aspirant for your hand ? 

[Julia looks at him in amazement and consternation.] 

Julia. I knew you were still sick ! Lie down here ! [She gets 
up, and puts the pillow on the sofa as she speaks.] 



GRANDMA PULLS THE STRING 89 

Thornton. She's making me act like a confounded phonograph. 
Julia. [Even more distressed] Oh — it's too warm in here for 
you ! Lie down. Please, Bill ! Relax ! Close your eyes 1 

Thornton. How could I close my eyes when you're looking at 
me like that — the loveliest, sweetest — 
Julia. I'm going to 'phone for Dr. Hartley ! 

[She starts for the door.] 
Thornton. [Catching her hand] No — no — no. My darling, 
I've got you now — [The ball hits his foot. He kicks it away.] 
Julia. [Drawing away from him] Take it to her, Bill. 
Thornton. Not until I've said what I have to say ! I've got 
you now and I'm never going to let you go until you promise — 
Grandma. [Calling, with a rising inflection] Hil-de-garde — ! 
Hildegarde. [Suspiciously near] Yes, Grandma. 
Grandma. Pick up my yarn. 

[Hildegarde appears, and, staring big-eyed at Thornton 
and Julia, backs with it to the old lady. Grandma 
continues oh, so kindly.] 
Sit down near grandma, dear. 

[With alacrity Hildegarde obeys, squats on the floor, 
and continues to gaze with all her eyes at the lovers.] 
Thornton. This is too much. 
Julia. [Miserably] They'll go to bed soon. 
Thornton. I'll be gone sooner. [He makes for the door,] 
Julia. Bill — ! Hildegarde, Mother wants you 1 
Hildegarde. Grandma told me to stay here with her. 
Julia. I'll take care of Grandma. [She is gently pushing Hilde- 
garde out.] 
Hildegarde. [In a loud whisper] Has he done it yet? 

[Julia gives her a shake and a push.] 
Grandma. [Almost drawling it] Put my shawl over my shoul- 
ders, Hildegarde. 

[Hildegarde breaks away from her sister and skips over 
for the shawl. Julia catches her and propels her from 
the room.] 



90 ANTHOLOGY OF ONE-ACT PLAYS 

Julia. You go right upstairs and stay there. [She crosses 
the room towards her grandmother, with the shawl.] 
Grandma. I said I wanted Hildegarde to do it for me. 
Julia. [Loudly] It 's her bedtime, Grandma. 
Thornton. You positively won't go out? 

[Julia shakes her head dolefully. She is utterly miserable. 

So is he.]" 
[Despairingly] Oh, well — [He slumps down on the sofa. A long 
silence. At last he has an inspiration, sits up.] Julia, come here. 

[Julia obeys.] 
Look. She 's deaf. So if we sit very close together and talk low she 
won't hear what we're saying. 

Julia. [Dubiously] Maybe not. [But after all, she knows 
Grandma will hear every word.] Oh, Bill, I'm so sorry this 
happened. 

Thornton. You couldn't help it, Julia. But you might have 
gone somewhere with me. 
Julia. Oh, please don't begin that again ! 
Thornton. I've simply got to tell you something. I can't write 
it — I'm a dub at letters, and anyway — This is our last evening to- 
gether. It's the last chance I'll have to say — to tell — to ask you — 
Julia [With a quick intake of breath] What, Bill? 
Thornton. To ask you if you will — 

[Simultaneously Hildegarde's curls are seen at the edge of 

the door opening and Grandma's ball rolls over to him. 

His tongue is paralyzed. He swallows once or twice. 

Julia takes his hand.] 

Julia. [Desperately — she knows what has stopped him.] What, 

Bill? 

[Hildegarde is framed in the doorway, much more excited 
— externally at least — than the principals of the 
comedy.] 
Don't mind them, Bill ! 

Thornton. [Gets up, pumps his fists up and down once or twice, 
presses his lips together. Then he grabs up the sofa pillow, throws 



GRANDMA PULLS THE STRING 91 

it on the floor again, and plumps down on his knees before Julia. 
He speaks loudly. ,] Fairest lady of my dreams, will you grant me 
the inestimable privilege of loving and caring for you all the rest 
of my life ? In short, will you make me supremely happy — 

Grandma. [Sharply] Supernally! 

Thornton. Make me "supernally" happy by deigning to "be- 
come my wife ? 

[Julia has been staring, wide-eyed. Now at last she catches 
on. For a moment she and Thornton gaze at each 
other, then Julia rocks with suppressed laughter.] 

Julia. [Very loudly] Sir, you do me too much honor! [In a 
low tone] Bill — ! 

Thornton. [Under his breath] You darling 1 Will you — ? 

Julia. [Low tone] Of course I will ! Oh — Bill ! 

Thornton. You're the most wonderful — [Their hands 
together] 

Julia. My — man ! 

[An ecstatic silence.] 

Thornton. I've just got to kiss you ! 

Julia. Oh, Bill— 

Thornton. [Glancing swiftly about the room] You've got to 
come, now ! 

Julia. Now I don't care how I look 1 

Thornton. You look perfect to me ! Gosh, I — 

Julia. Will I always — look perfect — to you ? 

Thornton. Always ! And a day beyond that ! 

Julia. Oh, Bill! — 

[A pause.] 

Thornton. Come on — That kiss — ! 

Julia. Yes — Oh, Bill — [They have forgotten Grandma, for- 
gotten Hildegarde, forgotten everything in the world except them- 
selves. They move rapidly towards the door.] 

Grandma. William, where 's my yarn? 

Julia. Oh, bother ! 

Thornton. Let her bother I 



02 ANTHOLOGY OF ONE-ACT PLAYS 

Julia. [Happily] Yes — 

[They go out.] 

Grandma. [In a rage] Julia — ! You Julia ! You come right 
back here and pick up my yarn ! Julia, come back here ! Ju — 
lia ! Ju-lia ! Don't you dare go away and leave my yarn on the 
floor. Ju-lia! Ju-lia! 

Hildegarde. [Entering] What's the matter, Grandma? 

Grandma. You go get Julia. Tell her to come back into this 
room. 

[Hildegarde is stooping for the ball.] 
Don't you touch that ! You go call Julia to come back — 

Hildegarde. [Solemnly] She's engaged, Grandma. 

Grandma. I don't care what she is ! Ju — lia — ! 

[Mrs. Cummings and Nona run in.] 

Mrs. Cummings. Why, Mother ! What on earth is the matter ? 
Are you sick ? 

Grandma. No, I'm not sick ! I want Julia to come back into 
this room ! 

[Mrs. Cummings looks bewildered, Nona stands faintly 

smiling.] 
Hildegarde. [Very solemnly] Mother, Julia is engaged. He 
knelt at her feet and he prayed her to — 
Nona. Knelt at her feet ! [Laughs.] 

Hildegarde. He did ! It was grand ! It was — oh, Mother — 
it was — grand ! He knelt at her feet and prayed her, and then 
they folded their tents like the Arabs and silently stole away. 
Grandma. Bring her back here this minute. 
Hildegarde. [Always solemn] They've gone out to get kissed. 
Grandma. Ju — lia — ! 

[Nona is still rocking with laughter. Mrs. Cummings is 
laughing, too, but scarcely knowing what to do.] 
Mrs. Cummings. Oh dear! Run, baby! Call Julia back. 
Grandma'll have a spell if you don't. 



GRANDMA PULLS THE STRING 03 

[Hildegarde goes, none too swiftly.] 
She'll come in a minute, Mother. 

Grandma. [Her anger dropping as suddenly as it came, she 
begins to chuckle.] I had to prompt him once. 

Nona. Oh — poor Julia ! 

Hildegarde. [Returning] They hadn't gone out. They were 
standing close together in the vestibule. 

Mrs. Cummings. Tell her — 

HiLDEGARDE. I did. 

[The Lovers enter, very self-conscious. Julia picks up the ball 
and bestows it on her grandmother *s lap.] 

Grandma. Kiss me ! [To Thornton] You see, William, what- 
ever 's worth doing at all is worth doing right ! 

[They grin at each other, an understanding established at 

last.] 
Mrs. Cummings. Mother, isn't it time for you to go to bed? 
Nona. I know it's time for me to go home. [She stands in 
front of Thornton.] Congrats in order, Bill? 
Thornton. [Embarrassed, happy] I'll say so ! ! 
Nona. [So blase] Love, and the world laughs with you — ! 
[Nods, smiles.] Well, Vm going to do the right thing ! Good-night, 
everybody ! [She goes.] 

Mrs. Cummings. [Loudly] Mother, isn't it time — 
Grandma. I'm tired. I think I'll go to bed. Hildegarde — 
[HiLDEGARDE reluctantly pushes the chair. Mrs. Cum- 
mings follows.] 
Mrs. Cummings. [At the door] Julia — ! William — 

[Julia returns her mother's look, then turns a little away. 
Bill goes up stage and clasps her hand. Then he grins 

at HiLDEGARDE.] 

Thornton. Oh — must you go ? 

Hildegarde. [Abandoning the chair] Oh, I could stay awhile! 
[And there is no possible doubt that she would like to — .] 



94 ANTHOLOGY OF ONE-ACT PLAYS 

Mrs. Cummings. [Firmly] No. 

[They go out.\ 
Grandma. [The ball of yarn drops again, but nobody sees it.) 
This evening has been a good deal of a strain on me — 

[Hildegarde wheels her out, the yarn unwinding as they 
progress. Julia and Thornton are left alone on the 
stage. They look at the door, at each other ; then their 
eyes turn to the ball of yarn. Thornton picks it up, 
begins winding it with a sort of hurried determination. 
The thread is suddenly jerked. He takes a step or two 
up stage, as though to restore the ball to Grandma. 
He reaches a sudden decision, stops, turns back into 
the room and with an angry but deliberate gesture 
snaps the thread.] 
Julia. Oh, Bill— 

CURTAIN 



It's New! It's Colorful/ It's Excitingly Different! 

A CONNECTICUT YANKEE IN KING 
ARTHUR'S COURT 

AUTHORIZED DRAMATIZATION OF MARK TWAIN'S 
HUMOROUS CLASSIC 

By John G. Fuller 

Here is a new play version of one of the finest and most 
humorous books written by Mark Twain. In this 
dramatization, the Yankee from Connecticut is a young 
electrical engineer just out of college and anxious to try a 
hand at every type of mechanical device. 

In the prologue (played in front of the curtain), he is 
knocked out by his own experiment and wakes up to find him- 
self in the Court of King Arthur. From then on the striking 
contrasts between the old and the new develop into a series of 
ludicrous events which will satisfy the demands of those audi- 
ences who want real side-splitting humor with just a small 
undercurrent of elemental truths. For the play expresses un- 
obtrusively the ideals of freedom at a time when it is sorely 
needed. 

You'll find old Merlin one of the most genuine villains 
you've seen on the stage — you'll roar when Launcelot (who 
Hank claims has an athletic scholarship to the court) and 
Hank get into an argument about single and double wing 
back formations — when Sir Galahad gets reprimanded for 
letting the sales of the newly introduced toilet soap fall off 
in his territory — and when Hank takes over the court and 
turns it into a smooth running twentieth century corporation 
with stenographers and a drugstore around the corner to 
phone to send up a ham on rye and a chocolate malted. 

St* Men Six Women or Four Men Eight Women 
Royalty, #25.00. Books, 75 Cents 

BAKER'S PLAYS 

178 Trcmont Street 448 So. Hill Street 

Boston, 11, Massachusetts or Los Angeles, 13, California 



An all female cast 

A dramatic success story 

Hits every highlight of drama and comedy 

SBKBKBSIB'ff MS^S 

A Play for Women 
By Mel Dinelli 

Behind every successful Broadway star is a series 
of events and a cavalcade of people. The story 
of any one of those events, any one of those peo- 
ple, is enormously exciting. In SHUBERT 
ALLEY we are treated to a vivid picture of a 
" star " in the making and the thrilling situations 
and colorful people concerned. 

Delightful backstage scenes, filled with the 
laughs and heartaches which are as much a part 
of the theatre as greasepaint. 

Nineteen Women 
(Several parts may be doubled,) 
A Prologue and Seven Episodes 
Royalty, $25.00. .Books, 75 cents 



BAKER'S PLAYS 

178 Tremont Street 448 So. Hill Street 

Boston, 11, Massachusetts Los Angeles, 13, California 



Tkejhtipectw (jeneral 

A FARCICAL COMEDY IN FIVE ACTS 

By NIKOLAI GOGOL 

Translated and adapted for American production by 
John Dolman, Jr. and Benjamin Rothberc 

Nineteen Men Nine Women (some parts can be cut or doubled) 

Two Interior Scenes 
Royalty, $15.00 Books, 75 Cents 



npHiS is a world classic, one of the most popular comic plays of 
all time, in a new version that has the fast tempo and vitality 
of the Russian original, rendered into lively, colloquial American 
speech. It was prepared by an American author and little theatre 
director in collaboration with a Russian actor and was tried out 
under their direction by the Players' Club of Swarthmore, Pa. 
The production was extremely successful, pleasing both the well- 
read, critical, theatre-wise group, and the unthinking who came 
solely to be amused. It drew as many as two hundred and seventy- 
three recorded laughs in a single performance and delighted the 
audiences with its good-humored but penetrating satire on small- 
town politics, graft and provincialism. The plot is very simple, 
dealing with the frantic attempts of the Town Governor and his 
associates to cover up their incompetence, neglect and dishonesty 
by lionizing the young man they mistake for a government in- 
spector. They bribe him, feast him, flatter and cajole him, only to 
discover that he is not the inspector at all, and the play ends in 
panic and consternation as the arrival of the real Inspector-General 
is announced. 



BAKER'S PLAYS 

178 Tremont Street 448 So. Hill Street 

Boston, Massachusetts Los Angeles, California 








ate Due 




Gold in *' 


Due * JH 


or the Dee 


• *i t ,'~* *n Three Acts 
BY J. FRANK DAVIS 

THIRTEEN MEN SEVEN WOMEN 
ONE CHHJ) 

Two Interior Sets 



(10 are very small parts) Non-speaking parts five men, four 
women of whom three are singers and one a pianist Several 
parts can be doubled. 

A concentrated "thriller" of the style of the 9o's in 
which, without any dragging interludes, are piled 
swiftly upon one another such dramatic situations and 
heroic lines as made famous "East Lynne," "The Ticket 
of Leave Man," "Bertha, The Beautiful Cloak Model," 
and many other old-time dramas. A tenor hero altogether 
noble. A^ heroine pure as snow. A polished villain who IS 
a villain — murderer, kidnapper, thief and insidious 
tempter. A mortgage on the old farm. Plots against Our 
Nell. "Beneath this flannel shirt there beats an honest 
heart." "Meet me at the crossroads at midnight." "You 
are no longer daughter of mine." "There's dirty work 
afoot." "I have the papers." Out into the bitter storm. The 
erring girl returns. The villain still pursues her. Foiled! 
"Curses on you all !" Acts I and III at the old farmhouse, 
and Act II in a Bowery dance hall in the great and wicked 
city, with the kind of 1890 entertainment there which was 
the forerunner of this century's cabaret, and a powerful 
mob scene at the climax. Costumed as of the 90's, with a 
Prologue by a speaker in modern dress which instantly 
puts the audience into the play's spirit. Packed full of 
laughter — but intrinsically a rattling good melodrama, too. 
And with a smashing surprise finish concealed until the 
concluding three words of the play. It is as though all the 
best of the old thrillers were revived in one perform- 
ance; there is no other play anything like it. 

BOOKS 75 EACH ROYALTY $25.00 

BAKER'S PLAYS • BOSTON, MASS. 



h 3 1262 00109 6113 



MfTA 



M MMM 



BAKER'S PLAYS: 



c. 



2. 




178 Tremont Street, Boston 11, Mass. 

or 

448 So. Hill Street, Los Angeles 13, Ccd. 



WAhdrawi from LF. Surveyed to Internet Archive 




ate WORTH YOUR WHILE 



As a producer of amateur plays, you 
naturally want the best. And the best 
play is usually the royalty play. First of 
all, they are better written. That means 
that they are more worth working on. It 
takes weeks of effort to put on a play, and you owe 
it to yourself to see that so much energy is ex- 
pended on something as worthwhile as possible. If 
you want your play to repay your cast and yourself 
for the labor you put into it, use a royalty play. 

Audiences, too, are quick to detect and appreciate 
quality. We are impressed with the fact that audi- 
ences very seldom find a good play is too good, 
but many groups, using cheap and inferior plays, 
have lost the good will of the play-goers of their 
communities. Use royalty plays because the audi- 
ence will like them better, will pay more to see 
them, and will keep on coming to them. 

Using royalty plays will enable the publishers 
to pay authors more adequately for writing good 
plays. This is important, for the more worthwhile it 
is to write for the amateur theatre, the more good 
plays will be written for it. All play publishers are 
anxious to discover new writers of talent, to bring 
out new plays in greater numbers, and V> offer the 
widest possible selection of excellent plays. You 
can help to make this possible by the use of royalty 
plays. 



WALTER H. BAKER COMPANY 

178 TREMONT STREET, BOSTON II, MASS.